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Gameday Preview: Can Cats Swim With Sharks?

Today’s music choice is Swimming by Florence and The Machine.

This evening the San Jose Sharks invade the Bank Atlantic Center to take on the Florida Panthers on their longest road trip of the season, while currently on a 9-0-1 stretch.  Perennial regular season over achievers and playoff underachievers the Sharks find themselves two points behind the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars.  San Jose lost to the New Jersey Devils Friday night for the first time since early January, and will be trying to continue a Panthers home losing streak that stands at five.  The longest home losing streak for Florida since 2008.

The Sharks are  lead in goal scoring by Logan Couture who has 24 and is on pace for 35 this season.  The Sharks have seven players in total with double digits in goals including Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. The Sharks for those of you who aren’t familar with them do have balanced scoring and are typically hard to play against.  They role four lines pretty much, and have players that are willing to drop the gloves such as Ben Eager and Scot Nichol on occasion.

Ex Panther Dan Boyle leads the defence with his puck moving style and Douglass Murray is the big aggressive body who has become one of their most consistent d-men.  The Sharks play a typical Western style game that should prove entertaining if they are up for it.  Ex Chicago Blackhawk goaltender Antti Niemi will most likely be in goal as he has stated the last 10 games for the Sharks.   Niemi has been saying no quite often lately as he in on a 8-1-1 streak with a 1.88 GAA since taking over the number one spot from Antero Nittymaki.

The Panthers meanwhile are heading into a stretch where they play four of the toughest teams in the NHL over the nest week.  The timing of these games couldn’t have come a worse segment of the schedule as the injury bug has hit the Cats.  Already missing Bryan McCabe with a broken jaw, defenceman Dmitry Kulikov is now out with and ankle injury, and Joe Callahan has been called up to take his place.  Those injuries are in addition to Evgeny Dadonov and Shawn Matthias. Cory Stillman however who was hot prior to getting hurt, will be back in the lineup for this one.

The tale of the tape lately for the Cats has been one goal games.  They lead the NHL in that department and have played seven in a row.  They have lost nine of their last 11 games, and are on a stretch where they are 8-7–7  of games that have been decided by one goal.  Continuing to find different ways to lose games as they lost Thursday night against Buffalo with 4.5 seconds left in overtime, the Panthers need to come out as though they all have a firecracker in their arse.  As Mike Santos, assistant GM said the other day, “despite our screwups, we are still in this”.  True if you lood at matematics.  Not sure however if that holds up.

You only get so many chances when opportunity knocks, and you never know how long before your fortune runs out.  Mike Weaver thinks that this is a game that they are ready for,  and are determined to stop the slide.  Stephen Weiss says this will be fun.  Hmmm, ok, lets see how fun this is if we lose.  That’s not the mental angle I’m looking for, but that’s just me.

Probably going to see Tomas Vokoun in goal tonight as he has a pretty strong record against the Sharks.  9-0-1 with a 2.15 GAA in his last 1o starts against them, though mostly with Nashville.  Game two for new forward Jack Skille as he has had a few days to acclimate himself to the new system here, and get familiar with his surroundings.  We’ll get a better idea of his style tonight I’m thinking, although I am quite familiar with it already, just not with this bunch.

Good news, San Jose is o for 6 on it’s power play recently, and the Panthers have killed off 15 in a row.  Yet they haven’t faced the type of guns they’ll see tonight.   Regardless, keeping our heads above water in this one won’t be easy.

Here’s the TSN Gameday preview.  Also visit our FanSided opponent Blades of Teal.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments, or rants.

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Tags: Antti Niemi Dany Heatley Florida Pantehrs Joe Thornton Logan Couture Mike Santos Niemi Says No Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks Stephen Weiss Swim With The Sharks Swimming

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